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From late 2003 through mid-2005, a series of peaceful street protests toppled corrupt and undemocratic regimes in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan and ushered in the election of new presidents in all three nations. These movements--collectively known as the Color Revolutions--were greeted in the West as democratic breakthroughs that might thoroughly reshape the political terrain of the former Soviet Union.But as Lincoln A. Mitchell explains in The Color Revolutions, it has since become clear that these protests were as much reflections of continuity as they were moments of radical change. Not only did these movements do little to spur democratic change in other post-Soviet states, but their impact on Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan themselves was quite different from what was initially expected. In fact, Mitchell suggests, the Color Revolutions are best understood as phases in each nation's long post-Communist transition: significant events, to be sure, but far short of true revolutions.The Color Revolutions explores the causes and consequences of all three Color Revolutions--the Rose Revolution in Georgia, the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, and the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan--identifying both common themes and national variations. Mitchell's analysis also addresses the role of American democracy promotion programs, the responses of nondemocratic regimes to the Color Revolutions, the impact of these events on U.S.-Russian relations, and the failed "revolutions" in Azerbaijan and Belarus in 2005 and 2006.At a time when the Arab Spring has raised hopes for democratic development in the Middle East, Mitchell's account of the Color Revolutions serves as a valuable reminder of the dangers of confusing dramatic moments with lasting democratic breakthroughs.
In November of 2003, a stolen election in the former Soviet republic of Georgia led to protests and the eventual resignation of President Eduard Shevardnadze. Shevardnadze was replaced by a democratically elected government led by President Mikheil Saakashvili, who pledged to rebuild Georgia, orient it toward the West, and develop a European-style democracy. Known as the Rose Revolution, this early twenty-first-century democratic movement was only one of the so-called color revolutions (Orange in Ukraine, Tulip in Kyrgyzstan, and Cedar in Lebanon). What made democratic revolution in Georgia thrive when so many similar movements in the early part of the decade dissolved?Lincoln A. Mitchell witnessed the Rose Revolution firsthand, even playing a role in its manifestation by working closely with key Georgian actors who brought about change. In Uncertain Democracy, Mitchell recounts the events that led to the overthrow of Shevardnadze and analyzes the factors that contributed to the staying power of the new regime. The book also explores the modest but indispensable role of the United States in contributing to the Rose Revolution and Georgia's failure to live up to its democratic promise.Uncertain Democracy is the first scholarly examination of Georgia's recent political past. Drawing upon primary sources, secondary documents, and his own NGO experience, Mitchell presents a compelling case study of the effect of U.S. policy of promoting democracy abroad.
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